Posts Tagged ‘Insects’

Early February at Home

February 9, 2021

There is a lone curlew on the shore. I think there was just one this time last year – perhaps the same individual. Recently, there have been a flock of Purple Sandpipers, Turnstones and a pair of Goosanders to add to the usual Red-breasted Mergansers, Mallards, Eider, etc.

I have recorded Rhododendron Bud Blast before. Then it was called Pycnostysanus azaleae, but now it is Seifertia azaleae.

Seifertia azaleae

Several galls are present on small sallows along the road. I opened one up and found it to be caused by the gall midge Rabdophaga salicis.

Early one morning, I found this little chap in the bathroom, Amaurobius similis or perhaps A. fenestralis :

Amaurobius cf similis

We are having a period of cold weaher but escaping the serious snow affecting much of Scotland.


January 31, 2021

The weather and lockdown have limited activity considerably, but I have managed a few things such as second records for Raasay for Cupressus lawsoniana (Lawson’s Cypress) and Olearia macrodonta (New Zealand Holly), the former planted, the latter looking self-sown.

Yesterday the gorse near the shore yielded a spider, Metellina sp.

Metellina sp.

and several types of fly:

A window gnat. Sylvicola sp. probably S.cinctus

If it hadn’t escaped I could have got it to species as Seth pointed me towards a relatively simple key to the four British species. Also, there were a couple of Black Flies (I’m not tackling them), a common seaweed fly Coelopa frigida, though not so common in January, and a Heteromyza, possibly H. commixta but perhaps H. rotundicornis – it may be possible to sort this out with expert help. Later: confirmed as H. commixta.

Thanks to Seth (flies) and Katie (spider) for identifaction.

Recent Sightings

October 29, 2020

An excursion to Skye meant I happened across Tropaeolum speciosum (Flame Nasturtium) sprawling over gorse near Lynedale.

Tropaeolum speciosum
Tropaeolum speciosum

This is a first for VC104, the sixth this year and, like most of the others, not a native.

Here at home, a caterpillar climbing up the outside wall of the house unexpectedly turned out to be that of a Small White butterfly. Green-veined Whites occur in huge numbers, but I have never recorded an adult Small White. Phil had some freshly-emerged adults in Sleat earlier in the year, so they are clearly now breeding locally.

Following the unsuccessful determination of an Epirrita moth recently, this morning I had two Autumnal Moths (Epirrita autumnata). This is most probably what the previous one was too.

Epirrita autumnata

Meanwhile, I am hoping for help with this Cranefly which is probably Tipula pagana.

Tipula pagana?

Mines, Galls and Microfungi. Part 2

October 19, 2020

In my last post I had meant to include this smut on Bluebells. It is common enough in this part of the world, but under-recorded.

Colletotrichum liliacearum on Hyacinthoides non-scripta (Bluebell)

In Broadford I found Venturia populina on Populus trichocarpa (Western Balsam-poplar). Bruce says it is “fairly common up here” but there is only one Scottish record on NBN – and that is incorrect as the host is given as Aspen.

Venturia populina on Populus trichocarpa

In Ardvasar there were Red Campion capsules with small holes near the base. I have forgoten what does this and hope someone will remind me…. maybe the moth known as The Campion?

Silene dioica

On one of the capsules I spotted this:

Unknown on Silene dioica capsule

It is very small but looks a bit too organised to be just miscellaneous junk.

Nearby there was a Leycesteria formosa (Himalayan Honeysuckle or Pheasant Berry) with lots of leaf mines.

Mines on Leycesteria formosa are caused by flies that traditionally mine Lonicera periclymenum (Honeysuckle) and I sometimes find them difficult to tell apart despite excelllent guides at UKflymines and Plant Parasites of Europe. Anyway, these images found their way to Barry Warrington who runs the National Agromyzidae Recording Scheme and he says they are caused by Chromatomyia lonicerae.

Mines, Galls and Microfungi

October 13, 2020

By the front gate there is a small Hawthorn tree (Crataegus monogyna). Yesterday I spotted a small moth larva that turns out to be a young Light Emerald.

Light Emerald larva

Apparently this species overwinters as small larvae lying flat along stems of the food plant. As you can see the larva has a fringe of hair-like projections hanging down from the sides.

Also on the Hawthorn a couple of leaves had been spun together with silk and inside was another moth larva. The identity of this one has not yet been resolved.

Spun leaves

Before I left the premises I noticed a fungus on Solanum dulcamara (Bittersweet) which Bruce tells me is Alternaria solani.

Alternaria solani on Solanum dulcamara

This is not entirely good news as this fungus causes Early Potato Blight and we grow quite a lot of potatoes.

Moving on a couple of hundred metres to a strip of woodland by the Arish Burn, I noticed some leaf mines on Stachys sylvatica (Hedge Woundwort) caused by the true fly Amauromyza labiatarum.

Amauromyza labiatarum mines on Stachys sylvatica

and a little further on a Hazel (Corylus avellana) had leaf mines made by two different micro-moths.

Stigmella floslactella mine on Corylus avellana
Phyllonorycter nicellii mine on Corylus avellana
Phyllonorycter nicellii larva

Also there was a springtail, Entomobrya nivalis (sometimes called Cosmopolitan Springtail), though I almost missed it and have no worthwhile image to share.

A little further on there were galls on Ranunculus repens (Creeping Buttercup) caused by the fungus Urocystis ranunculi

Urocystis ranunculi galls on Ranunculus repens

I am grateful to various folks for identifying and confirming many of the species shown here: Bruce Ing, Roy Leverton, Murdo Macdonald, Stephen Moran, Nigel Richards and Mark Young.

A Few Minutes with an Alder

October 6, 2020

Yesterday, I spent a few minutes with my camera at an alder by my front gate. It turned out rather well….

This is the larva of the sawfly Platycampus luridiventris with no records on NBN for the west of Scotland. Thanks to Chris Johnson and Ian Andrews for i.d.

Platycampus luridiventris

This shows larvae of two more sawflies, the free-range one being Hemichroa crocea with just nine Scottish sites on NBN. Thanks Seth for i.d.

Hemichroa crocea larva plus one

This mine is caused by yet another sawfly, Heterarthrus vagans, which is more widespread but with no records for VC104 on NBN:

Heterarthrus vagans mine

On the other hand, it is a true fly, Agromyza alnivora, that causes this mine. I have recorded this before on Raasay, also in October.

Agromyza alnivora mines

Not counting two common galls caused by gall mites, my last find was of this leaf roll caused by the micro-moth Caloptilia elongella (Pale Red Slender). This is probably not uncommon but the only previous Skye/Raasay records I can find are from 1979 and 1998. Thanks to Seth for i.d. and Tony for confirming there is no other Scottish candidate for such activity.

Leaf roll caused by larva of Caloptilia elongella

What this shows most is how under-recorded our area is for inverts.

An Interesting Mothtrapful

August 11, 2020

A couple of nights ago the trap yielded 27 moths including

  • four Eudonia angustea – I usually see one or two of those a year
  • A Bee Moth
  • and the star of the show, Satin Beauty – the second record ever for VC 104.

Eudonia angustea

Eudonia angustea      Narrow-winged Grey

Bee moth

Aphomia sociella   Bee Moth

Satin Beauty

Satin Beauty

Roy Leverton who confirmed Keith’s identification says, “Those plumose antennae alone are sufficient. Also characteristic is the wear. Wild-caught ones are typically worn. I wonder whether the scales are more loosely attached than in similar species.”

Also in the trap were three sexton beetles, Nicrophorus investigator and two small caddisflies. Jason Doe says that the second is a Hydropsyche sp. – the antennae have helical ridges and the first looks like a Limnephilid, with the prominent black spines on the legs.

Caddis 200808 #1

Caddis #1

Caddis 200808 #2

Caddis #2

I am afraid that is as far as I am going with those.

Other Insects (Not Moths)

July 14, 2020

This well-marked bug came in with the moth trap. I am not sure if it was actually in it, but Stephen Moran who identified it for me says it may well have been.

Neolygus viridis

Neolygus viridis

Another one came in with some Leycesteria formosa (Himalayan Honeysuckle or Pheasant Berry) heading for a vase, but will have to wait for full determination:

Orthotylus sp.

Orthotylus sp.

When I was at Brae the other day it was quite windy so most moths I disturbed, and there were quite a few, took off like rockets into the distance. However, I did sweep a weevil off bracken, which turned out to be Otiorhynchus scaber, a largely Scottish species. “A nice find which fills in a bare patch on current maps.” according to Stephen Moran.

Otiorhynchus scaber

Otiorhynchus scaber

However, Richard Moore found it a number of times on Raasay. Many of his records will appear on NBN soon. I will post about this separately, fairly soon.

Catch-up Time

July 7, 2020

So, where to start? I can report that Epipactis atrorubens (Dark-red Helleborine) is now in flower on Raasay.

Epipactis atrorubens

Epipactis atrorubens (Dark-red Helleborine)

and that not far away, in the world of micro-moths, there was Apple Fruit Moth (Argyresthia conjugella), here living on Rowan rather than Apple.

Argyresthia conjugella

Argyresthia conjugella (Apple Fruit Moth)

whereas on Gorse (Ulex europaeus), the Grey Gorse Piercer (Cydia ulicetana) is to be found:

Cydia ulicetana

Cydia ulicetana (Grey Gorse Piercer)

Back home I spotted a Beautiful Carpet (Mesoleuca albicillata) in the garden:

Beautiful Carpet

Beautiful Carpet (Mesoleuca albicillata)

This is not frequent locally.

The Dark-green Fritillaries are now out in force and yesterday I saw my first Speckled Wood of the year.

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary

Dark-green Fritillary

A sawfly that may be a Tenthredo sp. was very friendly, but I await expert guidance on its identity.


Tenthredo sp. probably

A green Long-legged Fly turned out to be Dolichopus popularis, a widespread species but without a previous authenticated record from Raasay.

Dolichopus popularis

Dolichopus popularis

On Raasay, Persicaria vivipara (Alpine Bistort) is only known from a single 1 km square, but in parts of that area it is quite abundant. It is unusual in having flowers in the top half of the spike and purple bulbils in the lower half, or bulbils only in mountain-top plants.

Persicaria vivipara (Alpine Bistort)

Persicaria vivipara (Alpine Bistort)

Miners and Rollers

June 28, 2020

One of the Brassica plants in the polytunnel had a leaf mine:

Using the key at the excellent website Plant Parasites of Europe I found it to be the larva of the Large Striped Flea Beetle that had been attacking the turnips.

I have been out on Raasay collecting Hieracium (Hawkweed) specimens for expert determination. For each one, I have taken photographs of it in the field before pressing it and then putting images and details on a web page for the expert to see in conjunction with the pressed specimens. Only once I had done that did I notice a very long mine on one leaf:

Hieracium mine

Hieracium mine

Unfortunately, the specimen has been pressed and put in the freezer for a time, so I am not sure that the larva/pupa, if present, will be in much of a state to help with the identification.

Not far from home I noticed a leaf-roll on Alder:

Rolled Alder Leaf

Rolled Alder Leaf

There is silk there, making a moth larva the likely candidate. There is one, Caloptilia elongella (Pale Red Slender), that causes a roll on Alder, but I am advised that the fold is too untidy for that and it is probably just a polyphagous species that likes Alder e,g, a Tortrix. (Thanks, Seth and Tony.)

However, at Screapadal I did find mines caused by larvae of the sawfly Kaliofenusa (Fenusi) ulmi on Wych Elm:

This is what I was looking for on Wych Elms three weeks ago when I found all sorts of other things instead.